Or will the 6,000 members give the nod to that other sentimental favourite, Clint Eastwood and his film, Million Dollar Baby?
With feelings running so high, and who knows how many hours of television before the final results are known, I have decided the responsible thing to do is to leak the Oscar results in advance.
Though some minor details may have to be updated for the Monday-morning paper, the 77th Oscars night should go almost exactly like this:
Hollywood, Calif. -- At the Academy Awards on Sunday night, The Aviator soared, taking seven Oscars, for best picture, a first best-director prize for Martin Scorsese, best supporting actress (to Cate Blanchett), best art direction, best cinematography, best costume design and best film editing.
Because The Aviator had 11 nominations, the victory was not considered an upset.
At the 77th Oscars, broadcast live from the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, the typically ebullient Scorsese received a standing ovation of several minutes. Scorsese, who has been nominated six times previously as best director, surprised no one by recalling how he developed his love of cinema while growing up as a sickly child in New York's Little Italy. As expected, he went well over his allotted time as he described The Aviator as a film that took years to make and a lot of extraordinary individuals pouring their hearts and souls into the project. He said the film would not have been possible without the perseverance and dedication of one young man, before asking star Leonardo DiCaprio to come up on the stage. DiCaprio, who was nominated for best actor, reached down to hug the diminutive director.
[Note to editor: Please substitute following graph if Eastwood wins best director/picture or both.] Staring at the camera with his famous narrowed gaze, a slight tremor around his mouth betraying his emotion, the 74-year-old Eastwood leaned into the mike and said, "Well . . . ," before pausing again. Eastwood said he was grateful the academy had appreciated his "small film," and that the business had been good to him for a long time and he was thankful, before leaving the stage.
The winner of the best-actor award was the prohibitive favourite, Jamie Foxx, who, as expected, dedicated the award to his late grandmother and thanked director Taylor Hackford and his fellow actors. He thanked "Brother Ray" for his spirit and heart and music, and said he knew that he would be looking down on everyone tonight.
As anticipated, The Aviator's closest competition, Clint Eastwood's boxing movie Million Dollar Baby, scored a one-two punch in the acting categories. In the best-actress category, Hilary Swank showed her performance talent by acting shocked. Not surprisingly, she thanked her director and co-star Clint Eastwood: "Clint," she said, "You made my day!" -- an allusion to his famous line from Dirty Harry. (Ms. Swank later revealed to press backstage that she had rejected the option of saying, "I feel lucky, punk.") This is the second Oscar for Ms. Swank (after Boys Don't Cry) and the second for a performance in which she played a guileless misfit from the wrong side of the tracks who crosses gender lines and dies.
The audience was not stunned when Swank's co-star, Morgan Freeman, a four-time nominee, made a speech, full of stately gravity, thanking, as usual, his director, his co-star, God and his family, and adding something about the joy and pride of the acting profession. But as so often happens, the remainder of Freeman's speech was cut off when the orchestra suddenly began playing before the show cut to a Home Depot ad.
[Note to editor: Please sub following graph if Freeman loses to Thomas Haden Church.] Best-supporting-actor winner Thomas Haden Church, who won for his role in the film Sideways, joked that if he had known this was all it took, he would have done more movies involving getting drunk.
True to his usual judiciously edgy form, host Chris Rock took advantage of the Oscars' new thrust-style stage to make people sitting at the front feel really uncomfortable. Rock made jokes about the audience being so white ("like a Bush family picnic"), and took some time to tweak the Hollywood famous (a bit about Warren Beatty using Viagra). To no one's shock, he managed to use the title of the film Finding Neverland for a jibe about Michael Jackson's pedophilia charges, which drew some "oohs" of concern.
Later, some observers felt the monologue had been in dubious taste, while others felt it was just the tonic the stuffy Oscar shows needed.
Producer Gil Cates managed once again to salute the present, future and past of "Old Hollywood" with a Busby Berkeley-inspired spiral of rotating Oscars at centre stage. This year's set was produced for the 16th time by Roy Christopher, who worked hard to keep things confusing yet somehow familiar.
Of course, no Oscars would be complete without a parade of designer dresses and acres of movie-star décolletage. This year's "presenters" included Kate Winslet, Penelope Cruz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Halle Berry, Salma Hayek, Renée Zellweger and Charlize Theron, who wore glamorous clothes by Bill Blass, Vera Wang, Kevan Hall, Halston, Isaac Mizrahi and Valentino. Fashion experts later praised Hayek's and Berry's form-fitting dresses, while some preferred the gowns worn by Zellweger and Theron.
Male presenters Martin Scorsese, Orlando Bloom and Tim Robbins wore tuxedos, though Robbins and Bloom showed their nonconformist sides by wearing coloured shirts. In other awards, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman accepted the award for best screenplay, which everyone knew he would get. Similarly, the best-adapted screenplay went to Jim Taylor and Alexander Payne for Sideways. The best-foreign-language picture went to The Sea Within, with director Alejandro Amenabar dedicating the Oscar to the late Ramon Sampedro, whom the film was about.
Best makeup went to Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, best score went to Jan A. P. Kaczmarak for Finding Neverland and best song went to Learn to Be Lonely from The Phantom of the Opera. The final song was performed by Beyoncé in a lavish production number involving male dancers dressed as the Phantom. Josh Groban and Counting Crows performed other nominated songs. The audience applauded the montage of stars who have died in the last year, with particularly enthusiastic ovations for Johnny Carson and Ray Charles.
In one of the fiercest close contests of the night, The Incredibles, which had won best animated feature, of course, beat out Spider-Man 2 for the best-sound-mixing award. However, Spider-Man 2, which also won for special effects, was somewhat vindicated by taking the sound-editing prize.